SC terms criminalisation of politics as ‘rot’, says may ask EC to deal with it

Dubbing criminalisation of politics as “rot”, the Supreme Court today said it may consider directing the Election Commission to ask political parties to get their members disclose criminal cases against them so that the electors know how many “alleged crooks” are there in such parties.

The observation by a five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra came when it was told by the Centre that considering the concept of separation of powers, the issue of disqualification of lawmakers fell under the domain of Parliament.

“Everybody understands that (doctrine of separation of powers among Executive, Legislature and Judiciary). We cannot direct Parliament to make a law. The question is what can we do to contain the rot,” the bench, also comprising justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, said.

While hearing PILs seeking to bar persons facing serious criminal charges from electoral politics, the bench took note of the suggestion of senior advocate Krishnan Venugopal, representing lawyer and BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay who has filed one of the PILs, that the court may ask the poll panel to direct political parties not to give tickets to or take support from independent candidates facing serious criminal charges.

“Criminalisation of politics is antithesis to democracy,” the bench said, adding, “We can always direct the Election Commission to ask political parties to get members and to be members to declare on affidavit if there is any criminal case pending against them and such affidavits should be made public so that voters know as to how many alleged crooks are there in a political party”.

Referring to the “symbols order” and said if a party gave ticket to a person facing criminal or any other case, then the election symbol of that party would be de-recognised, the court said it was seeking upholding of “democratic ideals” and not “legislating” on the issue.

“Nobody is disqualifying anybody. What we may direct the Election Commission is that the election symbol of a political party be taken away if a person, facing criminal charges, is allowed to contest the election on its ticket,” it said.

The bench also said it has to “completely steer clear” of the aspect of disqualification of a lawmaker as it did not fall under its the domain.

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